• Strategic Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Serology Testing in a Low Prevalence Setting: The COVID-19 Contact (CoCo) Study in Healthcare Professionals.

      Behrens, Georg M N; Cossmann, Anne; Stankov, Metodi V; Schulte, Bianca; Streeck, Hendrik; Förster, Reinhold; Bosnjak, Berislav; Willenzon, Stefanie; Boeck, Anna-Lena; Thu Tran, Anh; et al. (Springer Healthcare, 2020-09-04)
      Background: Serology testing is explored for epidemiological research and to inform individuals after suspected infection. During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, frontline healthcare professionals (HCP) may be at particular risk for infection. No longitudinal data on functional seroconversion in HCP in regions with low COVID-19 prevalence and low pre-test probability exist. Methods: In a large German university hospital, we performed weekly questionnaire assessments and anti-severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) immunoglobulin G (IgG) measurements with various commercial tests, a novel surrogate virus neutralisation test, and a neutralisation assay using live SARS-CoV-2. Results: From baseline to week 6, 1080 screening measurements for anti-SARS CoV-2 (S1) IgG from 217 frontline HCP (65% female) were performed. Overall, 75.6% of HCP reported at least one symptom of respiratory infection. Self-perceived infection probability declined over time (from mean 20.1% at baseline to 12.4% in week 6, p < 0.001). In sera of convalescent patients with PCR-confirmed COVID-19, we measured high anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG levels, obtained highly concordant results from enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) using e.g. the spike 1 (S1) protein domain and the nucleocapsid protein (NCP) as targets, and confirmed antiviral neutralisation. However, in HCP the cumulative incidence for anti-SARS-CoV-2 (S1) IgG was 1.86% for positive and 0.93% for equivocal positive results over the study period of 6 weeks. Except for one HCP, none of the eight initial positive results were confirmed by alternative serology tests or showed in vitro neutralisation against live SARS-CoV-2. The only true seroconversion occurred without symptoms and mounted strong functional humoral immunity. Thus, the confirmed cumulative incidence for neutralizing anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG was 0.47%. Conclusion: When assessing anti-SARS-CoV-2 immune status in individuals with low pre-test probability, we suggest confirming positive results from single measurements by alternative serology tests or functional assays. Our data highlight the need for a methodical serology screening approach in regions with low SARS-CoV-2 infection rates.
    • Alpha-Toxin Limits Type 1 While Fostering Type 3 Immune Responses.

      Bonifacius, Agnes; Goldmann, Oliver; Floess, Stefan; Holtfreter, Silva; Robert, Philippe A; Nordengrün, Maria; Kruse, Friederike; Lochner, Matthias; Falk, Christine S; Schmitz, Ingo; et al. (Frontiers, 2020-08-07)
      Staphylococcus aureus can cause life-threatening diseases, and hospital- as well as community-associated antibiotic-resistant strains are an emerging global public health problem. Therefore, prophylactic vaccines or immune-based therapies are considered as alternative treatment opportunities. To develop such novel treatment approaches, a better understanding of the bacterial virulence and immune evasion mechanisms and their potential effects on immune-based therapies is essential. One important staphylococcal virulence factor is alpha-toxin, which is able to disrupt the epithelial barrier in order to establish infection. In addition, alpha-toxin has been reported to modulate other cell types including immune cells. Since CD4+ T cell-mediated immunity is required for protection against S. aureus infection, we were interested in the ability of alpha-toxin to directly modulate CD4+ T cells. To address this, murine naïve CD4+ T cells were differentiated in vitro into effector T cell subsets in the presence of alpha-toxin. Interestingly, alpha-toxin induced death of Th1-polarized cells, while cells polarized under Th17 conditions showed a high resistance toward increasing concentrations of this toxin. These effects could neither be explained by differential expression of the cellular alpha-toxin receptor ADAM10 nor by differential activation of caspases, but might result from an increased susceptibility of Th1 cells toward Ca2+-mediated activation-induced cell death. In accordance with the in vitro findings, an alpha-toxin-dependent decrease of Th1 and concomitant increase of Th17 cells was observed in vivo during S. aureus bacteremia. Interestingly, corresponding subsets of innate lymphoid cells and γδ T cells were similarly affected, suggesting a more general effect of alpha-toxin on the modulation of type 1 and type 3 immune responses. In conclusion, we have identified a novel alpha-toxin-dependent immunomodulatory strategy of S. aureus, which can directly act on CD4+ T cells and might be exploited for the development of novel immune-based therapeutic approaches to treat infections with antibiotic-resistant S. aureus strains.
    • OTUB1 inhibits CNS autoimmunity by preventing IFN-γ-induced hyperactivation of astrocytes.

      Wang, Xu; Mulas, Floriana; Yi, Wenjing; Brunn, Anna; Nishanth, Gopala; Just, Sissy; Waisman, Ari; Brück, Wolfgang; Deckert, Martina; Schlüter, Dirk; et al. (EMBO Press, 2019-04-03)
      Astrocytes are critical regulators of neuroinflammation in multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Growing evidence indicates that ubiquitination of signaling molecules is an important cell-intrinsic mechanism governing astrocyte function during MS and EAE Here, we identified an upregulation of the deubiquitinase OTU domain, ubiquitin aldehyde binding 1 (OTUB1) in astrocytes during MS and EAE Mice with astrocyte-specific OTUB1 ablation developed more severe EAE due to increased leukocyte accumulation, proinflammatory gene transcription, and demyelination in the spinal cord as compared to control mice. OTUB1-deficient astrocytes were hyperactivated in response to IFN-γ, a fingerprint cytokine of encephalitogenic T cells, and produced more proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines than control astrocytes. Mechanistically, OTUB1 inhibited IFN-γ-induced Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) signaling by K48 deubiquitination and stabilization of the JAK2 inhibitor suppressor of cytokine signaling 1 (SOCS1). Thus, astrocyte-specific OTUB1 is a critical inhibitor of neuroinflammation in CNS autoimmunity.
    • Establishment of porcine and human expanded potential stem cells.

      Gao, Xuefei; Nowak-Imialek, Monika; Chen, Xi; Chen, Dongsheng; Herrmann, Doris; Ruan, Degong; Chen, Andy Chun Hang; Eckersley-Maslin, Melanie A; Ahmad, Shakil; Lee, Yin Lau; et al. (Nature publishing group(NPG), 2019-06-03)
      We recently derived mouse expanded potential stem cells (EPSCs) from individual blastomeres by inhibiting the critical molecular pathways that predispose their differentiation. EPSCs had enriched molecular signatures of blastomeres and possessed developmental potency for all embryonic and extra-embryonic cell lineages. Here, we report the derivation of porcine EPSCs, which express key pluripotency genes, are genetically stable, permit genome editing, differentiate to derivatives of the three germ layers in chimeras and produce primordial germ cell-like cells in vitro. Under similar conditions, human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells can be converted, or somatic cells directly reprogrammed, to EPSCs that display the molecular and functional attributes reminiscent of porcine EPSCs. Importantly, trophoblast stem-cell-like cells can be generated from both human and porcine EPSCs. Our pathway-inhibition paradigm thus opens an avenue for generating mammalian pluripotent stem cells, and EPSCs present a unique cellular platform for translational research in biotechnology and regenerative medicine.
    • Atlas of group A streptococcal vaccine candidates compiled using large-scale comparative genomics.

      Davies, Mark R; McIntyre, Liam; Mutreja, Ankur; Lacey, Jake A; Lees, John A; Towers, Rebecca J; Duchêne, Sebastián; Smeesters, Pierre R; Frost, Hannah R; Price, David J; et al. (Nature publishing group(NPG), 2019-05-27)
      Group A Streptococcus (GAS; Streptococcus pyogenes) is a bacterial pathogen for which a commercial vaccine for humans is not available. Employing the advantages of high-throughput DNA sequencing technology to vaccine design, we have analyzed 2,083 globally sampled GAS genomes. The global GAS population structure reveals extensive genomic heterogeneity driven by homologous recombination and overlaid with high levels of accessory gene plasticity. We identified the existence of more than 290 clinically associated genomic phylogroups across 22 countries, highlighting challenges in designing vaccines of global utility. To determine vaccine candidate coverage, we investigated all of the previously described GAS candidate antigens for gene carriage and gene sequence heterogeneity. Only 15 of 28 vaccine antigen candidates were found to have both low naturally occurring sequence variation and high (>99%) coverage across this diverse GAS population. This technological platform for vaccine coverage determination is equally applicable to prospective GAS vaccine antigens identified in future studies.
    • Irreversible impact of chronic hepatitis C virus infection on human natural killer cell diversity.

      Strunz, Benedikt; Hengst, Julia; Wedemeyer, Heiner; Björkström, Niklas K; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Shared Science org, 2018-07-25)
      Diversity is crucial for the immune system to efficiently combat infections. Natural killer (NK) cells are innate cytotoxic lymphocytes that contribute to the control of viral infections. NK cells were for long thought to be a homogeneous population of cells. However, recent work has instead revealed NK cells to represent a highly diverse population of immune cells where a vast number of subpopulations with distinct characteristics exist across tissues. However, the degree to which a chronic viral infection affects NK cell diversity remains elusive. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is effective in establishing chronic infection in humans. During the last years, new direct-acting antiviral drugs (DAA) have revolutionized treatment of chronic hepatitis C, enabling rapid cure in the majority of patients. This allows us to study the influence of a chronic viral infection and its subsequent elimination on the NK cell compartment with a focus on NK cell diversity. In our recent study (Nat Commun, 9:2275), we show that chronic HCV infection irreversibly impacts human NK cell repertoire diversity.
    • Pathological mechanism and antisense oligonucleotide-mediated rescue of a non-coding variant suppressing factor 9 RNA biogenesis leading to hemophilia B.

      Krooss, Simon; Werwitzke, Sonja; Kopp, Johannes; Rovai, Alice; Varnholt, Dirk; Wachs, Amelie S; Goyenvalle, Aurelie; Aarstma-Rus, Annemieke; Ott, Michael; Tiede, Andreas; et al. (PLOS, 2020-04-08)
      Loss-of-function mutations in the human coagulation factor 9 (F9) gene lead to hemophilia B. Here, we dissected the consequences and the pathomechanism of a non-coding mutation (c.2545A>G) in the F9 3' untranslated region. Using wild type and mutant factor IX (FIX) minigenes we revealed that the mutation leads to reduced F9 mRNA and FIX protein levels and to lower coagulation activity of cell culture supernatants. The phenotype could not be compensated by increased transcription. The pathomechanism comprises the de novo creation of a binding site for the spliceosomal component U1snRNP, which is able to suppress the nearby F9 poly(A) site. This second, splicing-independent function of U1snRNP was discovered previously and blockade of U1snRNP restored mutant F9 mRNA expression. In addition, we explored the vice versa approach and masked the mutation by antisense oligonucleotides resulting in significantly increased F9 mRNA expression and coagulation activity. This treatment may transform the moderate/severe hemophilia B into a mild or subclinical form in the patients. This antisense based strategy is applicable to other mutations in untranslated regions creating deleterious binding sites for cellular proteins.
    • Varying the sustained release of BMP-2 from chitosan nanogel-functionalized polycaprolactone fiber mats by different polycaprolactone surface modifications.

      Sundermann, Julius; Oehmichen, Sarah; Sydow, Steffen; Burmeister, Laura; Quaas, Bastian; Hänsch, Robert; Rinas, Ursula; Hoffmann, Andrea; Menzel, Henning; Bunjes, Heike; et al. (Wiley and sons, 2020-06-30)
      Polycaprolactone (PCL) fiber mats with different surface modifications were functionalized with a chitosan nanogel coating to attach the growth factor human bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2). Three different hydrophilic surface modifications were compared with regard to the binding and in vitro release of BMP-2. The type of surface modification and the specific surface area derived from the fiber thickness had an important influence on the degree of protein loading. Coating the PCL fibers with polydopamine resulted in the binding of the largest BMP-2 quantity per surface area. However, most of the binding was irreversible over the investigated period of time, causing a low release in vitro. PCL fiber mats with a chitosan-graft-PCL coating and an additional alginate layer, as well as PCL fiber mats with an air plasma surface modification boundless BMP-2, but the immobilized protein could almost completely be released. With polydopamine and plasma modifications as well as with unmodified PCL, high amounts of BMP-2 could also be attached directly to the surface. Integration of BMP-2 into the chitosan nanogel functionalization considerably increased binding on all hydrophilized surfaces and resulted in a sustained release with an initial burst release of BMP-2 without detectable loss of bioactivity in vitro.
    • Glutathione Restricts Serine Metabolism to Preserve Regulatory T Cell Function.

      Kurniawan, Henry; Franchina, Davide G; Guerra, Luana; Bonetti, Lynn; -Baguet, Leticia Soriano; Grusdat, Melanie; Schlicker, Lisa; Hunewald, Oliver; Dostert, Catherine; Merz, Myriam P; et al. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2020-03-25)
      Regulatory T cells (Tregs) maintain immune homeostasis and prevent autoimmunity. Serine stimulates glutathione (GSH) synthesis and feeds into the one-carbon metabolic network (1CMet) essential for effector T cell (Teff) responses. However, serine's functions, linkage to GSH, and role in stress responses in Tregs are unknown. Here, we show, using mice with Treg-specific ablation of the catalytic subunit of glutamate cysteine ligase (Gclc), that GSH loss in Tregs alters serine import and synthesis and that the integrity of this feedback loop is critical for Treg suppressive capacity. Although Gclc ablation does not impair Treg differentiation, mutant mice exhibit severe autoimmunity and enhanced anti-tumor responses. Gclc-deficient Tregs show increased serine metabolism, mTOR activation, and proliferation but downregulated FoxP3. Limitation of cellular serine in vitro and in vivo restores FoxP3 expression and suppressive capacity of Gclc-deficient Tregs. Our work reveals an unexpected role for GSH in restricting serine availability to preserve Treg functionality.
    • Deconvolution of bulk blood eQTL effects into immune cell subpopulations.

      Aguirre-Gamboa, Raúl; de Klein, Niek; di Tommaso, Jennifer; Claringbould, Annique; van der Wijst, Monique Gp; de Vries, Dylan; Brugge, Harm; Oelen, Roy; Võsa, Urmo; Zorro, Maria M; et al. (BMC, 2020-06-12)
      A novel planctomycetal strain, designated Pla85_3_4T, was isolated from the surface of wood incubated at the discharge of a wastewater treatment plant in the Warnow river near Rostock, Germany. Cells of the novel strain have a cell envelope architecture resembling that of Gram-negative bacteria, are round to pear-shaped (length: 2.2 ± 0.4 µm, width: 1.2 ± 0.3 µm), form aggregates and divide by polar budding. Colonies have a cream colour. Strain Pla85_3_4T grows at ranges of 10-30 °C (optimum 26 °C) and at pH 6.5-10.0 (optimum 7.5), and has a doubling time of 26 h. Phylogenetically, strain Pla85_3_4T (DSM 103796T = LMG 29741T) is concluded to represent a novel species of a novel genus within the family Pirellulaceae, for which we propose the name Lignipirellula cremea gen. nov., sp. nov.
    • Enteric Murine Ganglionitis Induced by Autoimmune CD8 T Cells Mimics Human Gastrointestinal Dysmotility.

      Sanchez-Ruiz, Monica; Brunn, Anna; Montesinos-Rongen, Manuel; Rudroff, Claudia; Hartmann, Melanie; Schlüter, Dirk; Pfitzer, Gabriele; Deckert, Martina; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2018-12-27)
      Inflammatory bowel diseases frequently cause gastrointestinal dysmotility, suggesting that they may also affect the enteric nervous system. So far, the precise mechanisms that lead to gastrointestinal dysmotility in inflammatory bowel diseases have not been elucidated. To determine the effect of CD8 T cells on gastrointestinal motility, transgenic mice expressing ovalbumin on enteric neurons were generated. In these mice, adoptive transfer of ovalbumin-specific OT-I CD8 T cells induced severe enteric ganglionitis. CD8 T cells homed to submucosal and myenteric plexus neurons, 60% of which were lost, clinically resulting in severely impaired gastrointestinal transition. Anti-interferon-γ treatment rescued neurons by preventing their up-regulation of major histocompatibility complex class I antigen, thus preserving gut motility. These preclinical murine data translated well into human gastrointestinal dysmotility. In a series of 30 colonic biopsy specimens from patients with gastrointestinal dysmotility, CD8 T cell-mediated ganglionitis was detected that was followed by severe loss of enteric neurons (74.8%). Together, the preclinical and clinical data support the concept that autoimmune CD8 T cells play an important pathogenetic role in gastrointestinal dysmotility and may destroy enteric neurons.
    • Purification of the human fibroblast growth factor 2 using novel animal-component free materials

      Bolten, Svenja Nicolin; Knoll, Anne-Sophie; Li, Zhaopeng; Gellermann, Pia; Pepelanova, Iliyana; Rinas, Ursula; Scheper, Thomas; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier BV, 2020-08)
      This paper analyzes the use of animal-component free chromatographic materials for the efficient purifi- cation of the human fibroblast growth factor 2 (hFGF-2). hFGF-2 is produced in Escherichia coli and pu- rified via three different chromatography steps, which include a strong cation exchange chromatography as a capture step, followed by heparin affinity chromatography and an anion exchange chromatography as a polishing step. The affinity chromatography step is based on the animal-derived material heparin. Chemically produced ligands provide a viable alternative to animal-derived components in production processes, since they are characterized by a defined structure which leads to reproducible results and a broad range of applications. The alternative ligands can be assigned to adsorber of the mixed-mode chromatography (MMC) and pseudo-affinity chromatography. Eight different animal-component free materials used as adsorbers in MMC or pseudo-affinity chromatog- raphy were tested as a substitute for heparin. The MMCs were cation exchangers characterized with fur- ther functional residues. The ligands of the pseudo-affinity chromatography were heparin-like ligands which are based on heparin’s molecular structure. The alternative methods were tested as a capture step and in combination with another chromatographic step in the purification procedure of hFGF-2. In each downstream step purity, recovery and yield were analysed and compared to the conventional downstream process. Two types of MMC –the column Foresight TM Nuvia TM cPrime TM from Bio-Rad Laboratories and the col- umn HiTrap TM Capto TM MMC from GE Healthcare Life Sciences - can be regarded as effective animal- component free alternatives to the heparin - based adsorber.
    • Let-7c inhibits cholangiocarcinoma growth but promotes tumor cell invasion and growth at extrahepatic sites.

      Xie, Yu; Zhang, Hang; Guo, Xing-Jun; Feng, Ye-Chen; He, Rui-Zhi; Li, Xu; Yu, Shuo; Zhao, Yan; Shen, Ming; Zhu, Feng; et al. (Springer Nature, 2018-02-14)
      Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a cancer type with high postoperative relapse rates and poor long-term survival largely due to tumor invasion, distant metastasis, and multidrug resistance. Deregulated microRNAs (miRNAs) are implicated in several cancer types including CCA. The specific roles of the miRNA let-7c in cholangiocarcinoma are not known and need to be further elucidated. In our translational study we show that microRNA let-7c expression was significantly downregulated in human cholangiocarcinoma tissues when compared to adjacent tissues of the same patient. Let-7c inhibited the tumorigenic properties of cholangiocarcinoma cells including their self-renewal capacity and sphere formation in vitro and subcutaneous cancer cell growth in vivo. Ectopic let-7c overexpression suppressed migration and invasion capacities of cholangiocarcinoma cell lines in vitro, however, promoted distant invasiveness in vivo. Furthermore, we found that let-7c regulated the aforementioned malignant biological properties, at least in part, through regulation of EZH2 protein expression and through the DVL3/β-catenin axis. The miRNA let-7c thus plays an important dual role in regulating tumorigenic and metastatic abilities of human cholangiocarcinoma through mechanisms involving EZH2 protein and the DVL3/β-catenin axis.
    • Expansion of functional personalized cells with specific transgene combinations.

      Lipps, Christoph; Klein, Franziska; Wahlicht, Tom; Seiffert, Virginia; Butueva, Milada; Zauers, Jeannette; Truschel, Theresa; Luckner, Martin; Köster, Mario; MacLeod, Roderick; et al. (Springer Nature, 2018-03-08)
      Fundamental research and drug development for personalized medicine necessitates cell cultures from defined genetic backgrounds. However, providing sufficient numbers of authentic cells from individuals poses a challenge. Here, we present a new strategy for rapid cell expansion that overcomes current limitations. Using a small gene library, we expanded primary cells from different tissues, donors, and species. Cell-type-specific regimens that allow the reproducible creation of cell lines were identified. In depth characterization of a series of endothelial and hepatocytic cell lines confirmed phenotypic stability and functionality. Applying this technology enables rapid, efficient, and reliable production of unlimited numbers of personalized cells. As such, these cell systems support mechanistic studies, epidemiological research, and tailored drug development.
    • The Dynamics of Interleukin-10-Afforded Protection during Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced Colitis.

      Cardoso, Ana; Gil Castro, Antonio; Martins, Ana Catarina; Carriche, Guilhermina M; Murigneux, Valentine; Castro, Isabel; Cumano, Ana; Vieira, Paulo; Saraiva, Margarida; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Frontiers, 2018-03-01)
      Inflammatory bowel disease encompasses a group of chronic-inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. These conditions are characterized by exacerbated inflammation of the organ that greatly affects the quality of life of patients. Molecular mechanisms counteracting this hyperinflammatory status of the gut offer strategies for therapeutic intervention. Among these regulatory molecules is the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-10, as shown in mice and humans. Indeed, IL-10 signaling, particularly in macrophages, is essential for intestinal homeostasis. We sought to investigate the temporal profile of IL-10-mediated protection during chemical colitis and which were the underlying mechanisms. Using a novel mouse model of inducible IL-10 overexpression (pMT-10), described here, we show that mice preconditioned with IL-10 for 8 days before dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) administration developed a milder colitic phenotype. In IL-10-induced colitic mice, Ly6C cells isolated from the lamina propria showed a decreased inflammatory profile. Because our mouse model leads to transcription of the IL-10 transgene in the bone marrow and elevated seric IL-10 concentration, we investigated whether IL-10 could imprint immune cells in a long-lasting way, thus conferring sustained protection to colitis. We show that this was not the case, as IL-10-afforded protection was only observed if IL-10 induction immediately preceded DSS-mediated colitis. Thus, despite the protection afforded by IL-10 in colitis, novel strategies are required, specifically to achieve long-lasting protection.
    • TLR4 abrogates the Th1 immune response through IRF1 and IFN-β to prevent immunopathology during L. infantum infection.

      Sacramento, Laís Amorim; Benevides, Luciana; Maruyama, Sandra Regina; Tavares, Lucas; Fukutani, Kiyoshi Ferreira; Francozo, Marcela; Sparwasser, Tim; Cunha, Fernando Queiroz; Almeida, Roque Pacheco; da Silva, João Santana; et al. (PLOS, 2020-03-25)
      A striking feature of human visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is chronic inflammation in the spleen and liver, and VL patients present increased production levels of multiple inflammatory mediators, which contribute to tissue damage and disease severity. Here, we combined an experimental model with the transcriptional profile of human VL to demonstrate that the TLR4-IFN-β pathway regulates the chronic inflammatory process and is associated with the asymptomatic form of the disease. Tlr4-deficient mice harbored fewer parasites in their spleen and liver than wild-type mice. TLR4 deficiency enhanced the Th1 immune response against the parasite, which was correlated with an increased activation of dendritic cells (DCs). Gene expression analyses demonstrated that IRF1 and IFN-β were expressed downstream of TLR4 after infection. Accordingly, IRF1- and IFNAR-deficient mice harbored fewer parasites in the target organs than wild-type mice due to having an increased Th1 immune response. However, the absence of TLR4 or IFNAR increased the serum transaminase levels in infected mice, indicating the presence of liver damage in these animals. In addition, IFN-β limits IFN-γ production by acting directly on Th1 cells. Using RNA sequencing analysis of human samples, we demonstrated that the transcriptional signature for the TLR4 and type I IFN (IFN-I) pathways was positively modulated in asymptomatic subjects compared with VL patients and thus provide direct evidence demonstrating that the TLR4-IFN-I pathway is related to the nondevelopment of the disease. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that the TLR4-IRF1 pathway culminates in IFN-β production as a mechanism for dampening the chronic inflammatory process and preventing immunopathology development.
    • Variations in microbiota composition of laboratory mice influence Citrobacter rodentium infection via variable short-chain fatty acid production.

      Osbelt, Lisa; Thiemann, Sophie; Smit, Nathiana; Lesker, Till Robin; Schröter, Madita; Gálvez, Eric J C; Schmidt-Hohagen, Kerstin; Pils, Marina C; Mühlen, Sabrina; Dersch, Petra; et al. (PLOS, 2020-03-24)
      The composition of the intestinal microbiota influences the outcome of enteric infections in human and mice. However, the role of specific members and their metabolites contributing to disease severity is largely unknown. Using isogenic mouse lines harboring distinct microbiota communities, we observed highly variable disease kinetics of enteric Citrobacter rodentium colonization after infection. Transfer of communities from susceptible and resistant mice into germ-free mice verified that the varying susceptibilities are determined by microbiota composition. The strongest differences in colonization were observed in the cecum and could be maintained in vitro by coculturing cecal bacteria with C. rodentium. Cohousing of animals as well as the transfer of cultivable bacteria from resistant to susceptible mice led to variable outcomes in the recipient mice. Microbiome analysis revealed that a higher abundance of butyrate-producing bacteria was associated with the resistant phenotype. Quantification of short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) levels before and after infection revealed increased concentrations of acetate, butyrate and propionate in mice with delayed colonization. Addition of physiological concentrations of butyrate, but not of acetate and/or propionate strongly impaired growth of C. rodentium in vitro. In vivo supplementation of susceptible, antibiotic-treated and germ-free mice with butyrate led to the same level of protection, notably only when cecal butyrate concentration reached a concentration higher than 50 nmol/mg indicating a critical threshold for protection. In the recent years, commensal-derived primary and secondary bacterial metabolites emerged as potent modulators of hosts susceptibility to infection. Our results provide evidence that variations in SCFA production in mice fed fibre-rich chow-based diets modulate susceptibility to colonization with Enterobacteriaceae not only in antibiotic-disturbed ecosystems but even in undisturbed microbial communities. These findings emphasise the need for microbiota normalization across laboratory mouse lines for infection experiments with the model-pathogen C. rodentium independent of investigations of diet and antibiotic usage.
    • Non-Targeted Mass Isotopolome Analysis Using Stable Isotope Patterns to Identify Metabolic Changes.

      Dudek, Christian-Alexander; Schlicker, Lisa; Hiller, Karsten; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany.
      Gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry can provide an extensive overview of the metabolic state of a biological system. Analysis of raw mass spectrometry data requires powerful data processing software to generate interpretable results. Here we describe a data processing workflow to generate metabolite levels, mass isotopomer distribution, similarity and variability analysis of metabolites in a nontargeted manner, using stable isotope labeling. Using our data analysis software, no bioinformatic or programming background is needed to generate results from raw mass spectrometry data.
    • Characterization of a transcriptional TPP riboswitch in the human pathogen Neisseriameningitidis.

      Righetti, Francesco; Materne, Solange Lise; Boss, John; Eichner, Hannes; Charpentier, Emmanuelle; Loh, Edmund; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Taylor & Francis, 2020-02-20)
      Increasing evidence has demonstrated that regulatory RNA elements such as riboswitches (RS) play a pivotal role in the fine-tuning of bacterial gene expression. In this study, we investigated and characterized a novel transcriptional thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) RS in the obligate human pathogen N. meningitidis MC58 (serogroup B). This RS is located in the 5´ untranslated region upstream of thiC gene, encoding a protein involved in TPP biosynthesis, an essential cofactor for all living beings. Primer extension revealed the transcriptional start site of thiC. Northern blot analysis of thiC mRNA and reporter gene studies confirmed the presence of an active TPP-sensing RS. Expression patterns of the wild-type RS and site-specific mutants showed that it is an OFF switch that controls transcription elongation of thiC mRNA. Interestingly, the regulatory mechanism of the meningococcal thiC RS resembles the Gram-positive Bacillus subtilis thiC RS rather than the Gram-negative Escherichia coli thiC RS. Therefore, the meningococcal thiC RS represents a rare example of transcriptional RS in a Gram-negative bacterium. We further observed that the RS is actively involved in modulating gene expression in response to different growth media and to supplemented bacterial and eukaryotic cell lysates as possible sources of nutrients in the nasopharynx. Our results suggest that RS-mediated gene regulation could influence meningococcal fitness, through the fine-tuning of biosynthesis and scavenging of nutrients and cofactors, such as thiamine.
    • Nasal DNA methylation profiling of asthma and rhinitis.

      Qi, Cancan; Jiang, Yale; Yang, Ivana V; Forno, Erick; Wang, Ting; Vonk, Judith M; Gehring, Ulrike; Smit, Henriëtte A; Milanzi, Edith B; Carpaij, Orestes A; et al. (2020-01-14)